New Mass. Employer Healthcare Mandates in 2018

Date: January 31, 2018

Starting this year, Massachusetts business owners have a new healthcare reporting form and assessment to comply with. 

Under a supplemental budget bill signed into law by Gov. Charlie Baker on Nov. 3, 2017, employers with six or more employees must file a healthcare coverage form that discloses whether they have offered to pay for or arrange the purchase of healthcare insurance for their workers. If they have, they must include details about premium costs, benefits offered, cost-sharing, eligibility criteria, and other information ‘deemed necessary’ on the form. Employers who fail to comply will be subject to a $1,000 to $5,000 penalty.

This new form is similar to the “Health Insurance Responsibility Disclosure” (HIRD) form that was required for employers of 11 or more full-time employees under the 2006 Massachusetts healthcare reform law, but was later repealed because of the enactment of the Affordable Care Act. The HIRD form—required by both employer and employee—existed to identify employees who declined coverage under an employer-sponsored group healthcare plan and to then charge “fair share contribution” penalties on employers accordingly.

To replace the fair share contribution revenue, the “Employer Medical Assistance Contribution” (EMAC) assessment was implemented in 2014. And now, thanks to H. 3822, signed into law by Gov. Baker in August 2017, a two-tiered EMAC supplement will be charged to Massachusetts employers with more than five employees. Tier-1 requires businesses with more than 5 employees, none of which receive subsidized care,  will see an increased EMAC payment from the current $51 per employee to $77. Tier-2 amounts to 5 percent of a covered employee’s unemployment insurance taxable wages up to $15,000 per year ($750 maximum payment), per each nondisabled employee receiving health coverage through the Massachusetts Division of Medical Assistance or subsidized insurance through the Massachusetts Health Insurance Connector Authority. These fees are an attempt to generate revenue to pay down a ballooning MassHealth budget.


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